The Ultimate Test

When we build a house we lay the foundation first. After that we choose the material for the walls, floors, and roof. Some buildings are put up for planned obsolescence. From a distance they may look slick and modern, but they cannot stand the test of time.

The believer has his foundation in Jesus Christ. Now we are to build upon this foundation, and the work we have done must stand the ultimate test; final exams come at the Judgment Seat of Christ when we receive our rewards. Paul explained this building process when he said:

No one can ever lay any other real foundation than that one we already have - Jesus Christ. But there are various kinds of materials that can be used to build on that foundation. Some use gold and silver and jewels; and some build with sticks, and hay, or even straw! There is going to come a time of testing at Christ's Judgment Day to see what kind of material each builder has used. Everyone's work will be put through the fire so that all can see whether or not it keeps its value, and what was really accomplished. Then every workman who has built on the foundation with the right materials, and whose work still stands, will get his pay. But if the house he has built burns up, he will have a great loss. He himself will be saved, but like a man escaping through a wall of flames (I Corinthians 3:15, LB).

We will be judged according to the secret motives and the character of our work. If we have 'done our work` for selfish motives or personal gain, even if the results looked noble to our friends and family, God knows our hearts. Also, we will be judged according to our ability. Some Christians are capable of more than others are, physically, financially, or intellectually. The grandmother living on a small pension but faithfully teaching her little grandchild Bible verses will not be judged for her giving a pittance to missions in the same manner as the business couple with a double income, living in a house beyond their means. The retired couple who count the offering every Sunday, never divulging the amount anyone in the congregation contributes, will not be tested in the same way as the millionaire who wants an inscription on the stained glass window, so everyone will know who donated it.

Some of the most severe tests will be given to the pastors and teachers for the way in which they handled the Word of God. There will be no reward for leading others astray in lifestyle or in doctrine through false teaching.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is referred to as the Greek word bema, which identifies the judge's seat in the arena of the Olympic games. The bema was the seat where the judge sat, not to punish contestants, but to present awards to the victors. When Christians stand before the bema of Christ, it is for the purpose of being rewarded according to their works.

When Christ returns, every Christian will stand before the bema, not as spectators, but as those to be judged. The Bible doesn't say where this judgment will take place, and the logistics of millions of saints standing there are beyond comprehension. But one thing is certain, we must all appear.

The Judgment Seat of Christ will be graduation ceremonies at which time each believer will receive a reward for his works. The New Testament teaches these rewards are called "crowns."

We will surely be surprised to note who receives the crowns and who doesn't. The lowliest servant may sparkle with more jewels than the philanthropist who endowed the church and whose name is engraved on the plaque in the narthex. We all long for appreciation, which doesn't always come from those around us; however, we have assurance that Jesus knows the intentions of our hearts and what we do in secret. "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (I Corinthians 15:58).

Our Patient Merciful God
The Bible and the Gospel speak of God's great mercy for us ...

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